A varsity must challenge ideas without fear, say Jammu University teachers

Reacting to the controversy over a professor’s remarks on Bhagat Singh, JUTA said that the professor was giving examples of how repressive regimes have often labelled their opponents as terrorists

NH
NH

NH Web Desk

Amid the raging controversy over remarks on Bhagat Singh by a Jammu University professor, Jammu University Teachers’ Association (JUTA) on Tuesday stated that a university must remain “an institution where ideas are freely discussed and challenged without fear of reprisals.”

Previously, the National Herald had reported as to how media tried to create a lynch mob atmosphere in Jammu after remarks of Prof Mohammad Tajuddin were taken out of context by the RSS and ABVP activists.

“JUTA stands for the preservation of the essence and spirit of the institution of the highest learning,” the teacher’ body said in a press statement and appealed to all the stakeholders and civil society at large to wait for the results of this enquiry committee.

It also made it clear that “JUTA regards Shaheed Bhagat Singh as a patriot of the highest order and a great political thinker”.

Here’s the complete text of the statement:

India’s civil society at large and certainly the University teaching community are now aware that one of our colleagues Prof M. Tajuddin has been accused of describing Shaheed Bhagat Singh as a terrorist. This accusation is based on a widely circulated video snippet where Prof. Tajuddin is seen/heard to be delivering a lecture in a 1st semester P.G. Class of the Department of Political Science of University of Jammu.

The Jammu University Teachers’ Association (JUTA) makes it very clear at the outset that it regards Shaheed Bhagat Singh as a patriot of the highest order and a great political thinker.

As for as the present controversy involving Prof Tajuddin is concerned, JUTA found that Prof Tajuddin was delivering a lecture in his course titled “Western Political Thought” offered in the M.A. Political Science programme in semester-I where he was discussing the Russian Revolution elaborating the struggle against Autocratic Tsar regime by Lenin and his associates. The students of M.A. Political Science (semester I) in their representation addressed to President of JUTA also reconfirmed that he was giving examples of how repressive regimes have often labelled some of its opponents as terrorists. These examples included Aleksandra Ulyanov, the elder brother of Vladimir Lenin labelled by Tsarist Russia as a terrorist and hanged.

In the broader context, he (Prof. Tajuddin) also referred to Shaheed Bhagat Singh labelled by the British Raj as a terrorist and hanged. The topic concerned is a sensitive one and yet one that needs to be discussed especially in a University where all stakeholders (teachers and students) have reached a particular level of maturity and have a level of knowledge and understanding of certain sensitive concepts. A discussion of this issue is vital one and must be conducted with great skill and patience (both teacher and students) up-keeping the essence and sanctity of the class room. Moreover, Prof. Tajuddin has issued a statement (video clipping) wherein he has explained his position and tendered an apology, if his example to the context has hurt the sentiments of a student(s).

Also given the fact that the University has constituted a committee to probe into the incident, we also appeal to all the stakeholders and civil society at large to wait for the results of this enquiry committee.

We fervently appeal to all to ensure that the University remains an institution where ideas are freely discussed and challenged without fear of reprisals. It is only through this spirit of inquiry that knowledge is created and existing knowledge refined. This in essence is what a University is, JUTA stands for the preservation of the essence and spirit of the institution of the highest learning.

In defence of the Prof.

Meanwhile, an editorial in a local daily The Kashmir Times, In defence of JU Prof, described the controversy as “frivolously and mischievously raked case of much ado about nothing”. The editorial stressed that the remarks regarding Bhagat Singh must me understood in the historic sense.

“The university is a space of knowledge, for promotion of freedom of ideas, a place where contesting opinions can be discussed and in light of this university teachers are supposed to enjoy immense freedom to be able to introduce their students to different ideas,” the editorial commented, hoping that “the university administration does not succumb to the noises being made against the professor and resort to knee-jerk actions that hurt the university and rob it of its very basic purpose that goes beyond the purpose of simply handing degrees.”

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